A month ago, I interviewed an applicant—virtually.He wasn’t qualified. I didn’t follow-up with him after the interview because there wasn’t any reason to.
I didn’t keep notes on the interview because it wasn’t important.
Yesterday I got a complaint from a regulatory agency charging me with discrimination. The applicant alleges I treated him poorly due to prejudge. I’ve since learned the applicant recorded our video interview and is using my questions and home office furnishings to prove his case.
Can you help?
Here’s how you can prevent future problems and perhaps fix the current problem.
There’s always a reason for professionalism and courtesy. The job applicant you turn down today may land a job with one of your top clients and potentially block your company from a lucrative sale.
When we help our clients hire new employees, our company acknowledges all resumes received. The job candidates who send a resume need to know they’re not playing handball with no ball.
Your applicant did more than send a resume. He interviewed with you.
He put on his “interview suit” and logged in early because he wanted a job. You kept him waiting in the Zoom lobby for fifteen minutes, meaning he spent thirty minutes pre-interview with hope and anticipation that crashed in disappointment twelve minutes later.
He wasn’t able to do other things in the second fifteen minutes because he never knew when you were going to invite him into the Zoom call. You interviewed him for eight minutes, during which you didn’t seem interested in his answers.
He felt burned. You took his time and gave him nothing in return, not even a “thank you for interviewing with us”.
Remember what’s in the other person’s line of sight
In my article “Landing a Job with Video Interviewing,”https://workplacecoachblog.com/2020/06/landing-a-job-with-video-interviewing/ I reminded applicants to realize that if their future job involved remote work, their interviewer will assess their workspace as well as them as an applicant.
Videos are two-way. Interviewers need to consider whether they have anything in their visual background that might contribute to an applicant’s perception of a future hostile work environment. You apparently had an exciting photo on the wall.
Do all potential qualified candidates have access to the video platform you place to use? Is your web platform Americans with Disabilities compliant? If not, what accommodations can you offer an applicant with a disability?
An applicant’s ability to access your web-based video platform with a high-resolution camera and high-speed internet access may give them an edge over an applicant using a cell phone with spotty Internet service.
You additionally need to be cautious concerning the protected-category information you glean, from the video such as the number and ages of an applicant’s children (parenthood is a protected category in many states).
While you might never record an in-person interview, virtual platforms allow recording with the push of a button.
Before you record an applicant, ask yourself:
- Have you asked the applicant if s/he agrees to be recorded?
- Will you record all interviews or only selected applicants?
- Who will be able to see the recording?
- What state laws impact your ability to record? Eleven states that regulate the recording of oral communications require the permission of all parties to a conversation before it can be recorded.1
Pre-COVID, when we ushered applicants into our offices, we smiled at them, shook their hand and greeted them with a warm “thank you for coming in” or “how are you today?”
Some interviewers, so conscious of the video, get “right down to business.” That can be a mistake as you want to relax virtual applicants and establish rapport to be able to get honest, “guard down” answers.
That means you’ll want to greet your virtual applicants warming and ease them into the interview with a few straight-forward questions such as, “please let me know what puts you in the job market”.
Fixing the current situation
- Carefully read the complaint.
- If you identify things you did incorrectly, develop and implement a plan to fix them.
- If you identify misassumptions, correct them with the truth. Make sure that everything you put on paper or state is objective and factual.
- Prior to providing any oral or written information, make sure you’re aware the categories protected from discrimination in your state, municipality and by federal law.
- Inventory your home office. When anyone enters your office or views it via videoconferencing, what do they see? Remove anything that might signal a discriminatory or hostile environment.
- Listen carefully to any guidance the investigator gives you.
- Make a list of the specific reasons you selected the applicant you hired.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at https://workplacecoachblog.com/ask-a-coach/ or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10. www.workplacecoachblog.com.
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